Pregame 19: Toronto FC @ Crew
The rivalry between the Crew and Toronto has been pretty one sided since the team from Canada joined the league in 2007. Tonight, however, there is more than pride on the line for the first time in the series history. Toronto is having a strong year and sits a mere point behind the Crew. Columbus has the added aspect of history riding on tonight’s game. They can set the record for most home games unbeaten. The winner tonight can take the season series and the Trillian Cup.
Crew on Offense: Toronto may have offensive weapons, but their defense is not nearly as strong. Brennan on the left side can be exposed as can Wynne if he pushes up too high. It will be important for the Crew’s wingers to be able to take advantage of any space they have on the wings. Gaven has looked good lately and Oughton had an excellent game by keeping it simple and adding sharp passing. Spreading the Toronto midfield and defense will only help to open it up for the Crew forwards.
Garey and Lenhart will be tasked with converting any chances they can get. They did well against Salt Lake last week and would not be surprised by a goal or two from the pairing. I think the best chances will come from the air. It will be tough playing on the ground through Toronto’s 5 man midfield. The two forwards will have to continue to work together, knocking down flighted balls and pouncing on any poor clearances. They have to be opportunistic.
Crew on Defense: Toronto has several offensive weapons coming out of the midfield. Reducing the impact of Amado Guevara and Dwayne De Rosario will fall to Carroll and O’Rourke. The defensive duo is the perfect method to counter the stylish duo from Toronto. Any half open look from those two can turn into goals in a hurry.
Toronto recently brought in another strike partner to pair with midfielder/forward Chad Barrett. Ali Gerba has joined from England and has shown he is a goal poacher. With the creative talent, Toronto will try to keep the ball on the ground and play quickly through Gerba. The unlikely pairing of And Iro and Eric Brunner are developing an understanding and that will help as the attacks will come from both the Toronto midfield and forwards.
Final Thoughts: The Crew will be shorthanded against a solid Toronto team, but as shown last week, the reserves have some talent too. The Crew will have to stifle the Toronto midfield; I think the succeed.
TFC 0 – Columbus 2